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In Dark Days

            We believe great evil has been done, grave wrongs committed, but we do not believe it all over with the church or with humanity.  In the darkest day “the old God,” as say the Germans, “still lives,” and his providence is as young, as fresh, as vigorous, and as worthy of reliance as ever.  We are among those who believe it never wise to sit down and waste our energies in sighing over the sins we have committed, but to look out for the virtue, and engage with redoubled vigilance in the performance of the virtue, of which we are still capable.  As long as God lives we will never believe in the permanent triumph of evil, or in the impossibility of repairing the greatest wrongs that may have been committed.  The church is at present, is today as powerful as she was when she went forth with the apostles from that “upper room” in Jerusalem to conquer the world.  The loss of temporal sovereignty by the successor of Peter, the loss of her temporal goods, the reduction of her ministers to mere staff and script will not make her weaker than she was when Peter erected his chair in the capital of the pagan world.  Perhaps this loss would even prove to be a gain.  Woe to him who despoils the church, but not therefore woe to the church despoiled.  What the church has once done she can do again, and perhaps could do more without than with the worldly trappings with which she has so long been encumbered.

            We by no means despair of the future; we by no means despair of seeing religion again recovering its hold on men’s hearts and on men’s consciences; we by no means despair of seeing again peoples and nations, sovereign princes and states recognizing the authority of Peter, and acknowledging the supremacy of the spiritual over the temporal; we by no means despair of seeing reestablished that system of Christian politics and international right which the church, through her sovereign pontiffs, labored so long and earnestly to introduce and establish among Christian nations.  Political atheism is a falsehood, and no falsehood can live.  Its triumph can be but temporary, and last no longer than the heated passions which have given it birth.  The church will regain her power and her rightful supremacy, but probably not in a society modeled after that of the middle ages.  She then worked through princes and nobles, hereafter she must work through the people; she then operated by diplomacy and force, she must hereafter operate through the intelligence and conscience of the people elevated to an effective power in the management of their own public affairs.